Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Commercial radio doesn't like the BBC

It's not just Nadine Dorries ('we don't need a national broadcaster because ITV have made a period drama') doing cartwheels this morning over the defenestration of the BBC; just yesterday commercial radio was blaming BBC Radio for being too good.

Every few weeks, someone from commercial radio says that Radios 1 and 2 should be made substantially poorer to encourage people to listen to them, instead. This time round, it's Ashley Tabor, who is head of Global, who is saying it's just not fair:

"These two powerhouse radio stations should do what they were set up to do — provide that which cannot be provided commercially, that's where the value is. Good-quality content which is not commercially viable."
Tabor, presumably, isn't so ignorant of radio history that he's really proposing the stations be run along the lines they were established on in 1967, when there was no commercial radio at all broadcasting from the UK.

I'm not sure Radio 1 and 2 have even been told their role is only to broadcast non-commercially viable stuff, but given that commercial radio is apparently incapable of producing programmes of the quality of the two BBC networks, that would appear to be what happens more-or-less by accident.
The Global boss said Radio 1 was not doing enough to support new British music, adding that he wanted it to break at least 10 new UK bands next year — and described its playlist as "very, very mainstream".
But if Radio 1 doesn't mix Top 40 music with new bands and acts, how is it going to "break" (by which I guess Tabor means 'help towards the mainstream') anything?

And if a band is broken by Radio 1, does that mean they're then mainstream and should be dropped from the radio station straight away? Is Tabor suggesting the Sunday night Top 40 rundown should only be allowed to play the new entries?

To be frank, I'd be very surprised if setting some sort of confused 'break bands' target to 10 wouldn't mark a major reduction in the number of acts given support by the BBC in their early years. And would a band that finds a small audience who follows them for years, but doesn't have a top ten hit, be considered a mark for this mysterious target or not?

Tabor likes strange maths, though:
He claimed the two stations were delivering on only 30% of their public service commitments.
I'd love to see his working on that. Does the announced Panorama-style programme on Radio 1 bring us up to 32%?

Paul Keenan - head of Bauer's radio things - has another cunning plan:
Paul Keenan, chief executive of Kiss and Magic parent Bauer Radio, said the two BBC stations could be used as a key driver in encouraging digital take-up by removing them from analogue and making them digital-only, including digital audio broadcasting (DAB).

"If you moved Radio 1 and Radio 2 that would show us the way [on digital]," Keenan told the BBC's director of audio and music, Tim Davie, at the Radio Festival in Salford.
Paul Keenan, I hope you never play poker, as it's probable you'd hold your cards the wrong way round.

You're really suggesting that commercial radio would invest in DAB if Radio 1 and 2 went DAB-only?

Really?

Because given that commercial radio spends every minute of every day whining about how it can't compete with Radio 1 and 2, why would you then rush to join them on a largely unadopted platform? If you really thought there was a future in DAB, you'd be investing in it and campaigning for Radio 1 and 2 to be kept off it.

Presumably Bauer's radio networks have got so used to assuming its audience is a bit dull that they've forgotten we're not all idiots.